Greetings from Seattle



Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sewing Project #1

I can now reveal that sewing project I was working on several weeks ago. Jill and Corey and Isaac and Irene put their Christmas tree up this morning.
The tree now has a new skirt. (Click photos to enlarge)
The panels are decorated with machine embroidery in snowflake designs in blue, silver and gold. Silver braid trim adds an extra sparkle.
The skirt is quilted and lined and finished with self bias edging.
With the Velcro closures Irene was able to claim it as a skirt for her.
But now it is in it's intended place.
Now it's time for me to start decorating.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thankful Thanksgiving

All was calm yet anticipatory this morning as the last snow shower ceased and the temperature finally rose above the freezing mark.
By noon we were ready. The turkey, brined overnight, was snug on the outdoor gas grill, being roasted and smoked with apple wood chips. The potatoes were peeled, the yams sauced, the fresh fruit compote chilling in the fridge. We had time to sit and rest, and read the paper.
By 1:00 all seven of our guests had safely arrived. The young guys played cribbage and the older adults visited as we munched on cheese and crackers and punch and wine and home brew - something for everyone.
The turkey was cooking slowly, so we put everything on hold while it finished. A beautiful bird deserves to be waited for. And it was a very good bird!
At 3:00 we sat down to this dining table, ate, and enjoyed each other's company.
-
There was help with the clean up, and later there was pie.
-
By 6:00 everyone had departed. Each of the three young men was sent off with a container of left overs for another meal at home. Tom and I did a few more dishes, and put things away. Tomorrow we'll hand wash the crystal stem ware and then all will be done.
-
What started out as a last minute change of plans ended up a perfect Thanksgiving celebration, as if it had been planned all along.
-
And for that, and for so many other things, I am very grateful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Change of Plans

We were going to travel about 100 miles south of Seattle for Thanksgiving dinner at my sister's house, where about 25 of us were gathering together. But the plan has changed. Due to the ice and snow still on the local streets, and a chance of more snow tomorrow before it begins to gradually warm up and turn to rain, we have opted to stay home and cook Thanksgiving dinner here. I bought a turkey last week, as I always do when the price drops, to put in the freezer for some future meal. When we decided yesterday morning to change plans, we got it out to thaw, and walked to the local Safeway for the other trimmings we would need for our traditional meal. - Today I have been cooking. - The pumpkin pie is done. The berry pie is just out of the oven. The cranberry sauce is cooling. The yams are baked and awaiting an orange glaze and reheating tomorrow. The stuffing bread is cubed and drying out.
The turkey is sufficiently thawed, so it is back in the refrigerator. This afternoon I will pull out the giblets and make stock for the stuffing and gravy. Then I'll cook up mushrooms, sausage, onions, celery and herbs and assemble the stuffing, which will then go into the frig to await the turkey tomorrow.
So now the question is "Who will be here to eat it all'? Hopefully we will have nine people around our table: Tom's sister and her partner, my aunt and cousin who live in Ballard, son Jake and two of his friends who don't have family to gather with.
-
And if we get more snow and not rain, they are all invited to come on Friday and we'll just heat it all up again and eat the leftovers.
-
What will be, will be. We still have much to be thankful for.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Only Yesterday

Only yesterday, well, make that two days ago, it was dry and calm, after the last wind storm, and we were outside cleaning up the last of the debris on Saturday morning before heading out for the day.
On the shrubs by the driveway I saw these signs of a warmer season.
Knowing what was coming, I hoped these confused plants would weather the deep freeze that was ahead.
Then we headed out for some Nordic Heritage fun. We stopped by a bazaar in a local church put on by the Daughters of Norway. We visited with people we knew and were pleased to see. I had my arm twisted to join up. So far I'm resisting.
Our next stop was the Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard. It was Yule Fest and the museum was filled with vendors of crafts and gift shop items and food.
We wore our sweaters from Norway, of course.
The lines were so long for food that we abandoned that idea and had a late lunch in a pub in Ballard. After that we checked in with Jake in nearby Wallingford, returned home for a few hours and were off for a movie in the evening.
(See previous post for a review of Fair Game)
Yesterday was spent at home, watching football, sewing and wreath making, and firming up my on line Christmas shopping. In the afternoon, as it got colder, it began to snow lightly. It was a good day for indoor projects.
This morning we got up to a light dusting of snow and, for the first time, below freezing temps. The furnace man is here for our one year check up of our new heating/cooling system. It's getting a work out today.
The Oregon Juncos, usually ground birds, are decorating the bare branches of the maple tree, awaiting their turn at the feeders.
More snow is on the way, but we are promised that it will warm up and turn to rain in time for Thanksgiving travel.
We had that Skype fitting with Irene. The shirt fits, with a few adjustments. And I have a day of sewing ahead of me.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lies Have Wings

But the truth plods along. There is an old axiom that "the truth will set you free". It certainly did for Valerie Plame Wilson, but not in the way she, or we, would have hoped - free from employment. We saw an important movie last night, Fair Game, a compilation of the stories of Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame Wilson. It is very well written and acted. You are familiar with the story, of course, as was I, but I was startled at how little I actually did know. Joe Wilson, diplomat and ambassador during the Clinton administration, and an expert on Africa, was sent to Niger to determine the veracity of a story about Iraq trying to buy yellow cake uranium from Niger. He found no evidence of any truth of this non-event and filed a report saying so with the CIA, who had sent him. Therefore he was quite shocked when he heard this false story given credence in President Bush's State of the Union speech. He recognized it as yet another attempt to manipulate intelligence to make a case for invasion. At the CIA, Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, who was at this time a "deep cover officer", was seeking verification on the purpose of aluminum tubes purchased by Iraq. All evidence gathered indicated that they were NOT of the type that could be used for enriching uranium. But the White House continued to claim they were. When Joe Wilson made the choice to go public with the truth about the yellow cake, he became a target for the White House. In getting back at him, his wife was determined to be "fair game". She was outed. I remember reading and hearing many claims to undermine the credibility of both Wilson and Plame. And of course, since the White House itself has only so much power to influence through media, they turned to columnists like Robert Novak and Judith Miller, and of course, the team players at FOX "News". The Wilson family's life became a living hell, as they were attacked on all fronts. Valerie lost her job with the CIA, who closed ranks behind the door they slammed on her. The movie is careful to not involve Vice President Cheney, but it was Scooter Libby and his entourage out of the Office of the Vice President that paid visits to the CIA, trying to extract the version of "the truth" they needed for their case for going to war. Scooter Libby and Karl Rove are portrayed as the bastards they are. Joe Wilson could not sit by and watch the manipulation of truth and the outright lies win out. He was compelled to speak out. For that he was branded a traitor. When Valerie Plame was outed, people's lives were in the balance. People died. We all choose what we believe. Some believed the Bush White House, and still do. Former President Bush is still defending himself in his new book. I choose to believe differently. I believe I found truth in this movie. As I left the theater, I was asking myself, "How do you sum this up?" The answer was "Lies get such a better telling than the truth". And it's still going on now, every day. And before I left my seat, my comment to Tom was simply "Those bastards!"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Brrrr! It's cold today. Damp, but not raining, gray ,breezy and 42. This is Novemberrrrr. As I type, Tom is up on the roof with the leaf blower, blowing off all of the leaves and fir needles and cedar droppings. It looks like it's snowing outside my upstairs window. As long as I can hear him moving around I knows all is well. I'll stay by the phone ready to call 911. He's a very steady and safe guy, but it makes me nervous. I finished the corduroy jumper this morning, and then spent a lot of time on the computer researching Christmas gifts. Lists are shaping up. I even came up with an idea for myself, an iPod nano. Not having 'podded' before, I had to see if this was something I would use. I can download music and pod casts, of course, and books on tape, but what sold me was the FM radio capability. I listen to our local FM talk and news radio station a lot during the day, so this was the feature I needed to make the decision. And it has a built in pedometer! Tom worked in the garage this morning, building a cone wreath from the bags of varied and assorted cones he has been collecting for years. He can tell me where he collected all of them. Don't tell, but some are even from National Parks. The first weath looks great and he has plans to make more. And he has a kerosene heater out there to keep him warm. I started on my next project. It's a fleece jumper. Jill saw it in a magazine and asked if I could make it. So I am in the process of adapting a pattern to recreate it. I have a photo of it somewhere on my computer, but I have no idea where I stored it, so I guess you'll just have to wait and see on this one two. Enough stalling. Back to work. I think I heard tom back on the ground, safely.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Earthquakes and Windstorms

The morning radio news is all about the forces of nature. The area is experiencing lots of power outages after a surprise windstorm hit the region last night. Reports of trees down on houses and cars are coming in. The visual media has the pictures to prove it. Our highest gust here was 31 mph, so we just have small branches down. Tom will have clean up to do today. But suddenly the wind storm reports were replaced by talk of the Richter scale. There was a small (4.2) earthquake about 100 miles south of here. We didn't feel it, but it was felt in a wide area. Fortunately no damage has been reported in the hour since it happened. Yesterday was a learning day for me. I went through my patterns and fabrics, planning out what to tackle next. I prewashed fabric and checked sizes of patterns against Irene's measurements to see how I would adjust them. And I re-watched my instruction video for my serger before attempting to make a long sleeved tee shirt out of knit fabric I've had for a long time. I used to know how to do this but it has been a long time. I found my old patterns, measured and cut, and crafted a prototype. Now I will sent it to Irene by Priority mail and have a fitting via Skype to see how it fits and what I need to adjust before trying another. After that I cut out and began sewing the corduroy jumper that is this year's Christmas gift to Irene. This morning I'll make another trip to Jo Ann's for lining and a zipper and buttons for this project. Then I'll get back to work. Fortunately we did not lose power. That would really cramp my style. My hand sewing isn't good. :-)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Big Gray

I thought I should check in before I lose my blog family. It's funny how little email I get when I don't post a blog. It's one of those gray, foggy, drizzly days we're famous for here. I'm sitting in my recliner, watching football, with my Acer notebook in my lap. Soon I'll get up and do my exercise routine and then watch the second half of the Seahawks game while peddling on my stationary bike. Going outside to walk is uninviting. I have spent many hours this last week on a sewing project, and I finished it up this morning just before the game started. It will be boxed up and mailed to the recipient, and after it has arrived I can post pics and clue you in. Tomorrow I'll start on my next project. I have quite a stack of sewing lined up to complete in the next month. It's good weather for sewing. Other than that, I haven't done much. We're adding a few dates to our calendar for holiday activities: a dinner party at our house, a Christmas shop field trip, a night at the theater. Our flight has been booked for travel to Denver for Christmas. I'm getting some ideas gathered for shopping. After Thanksgiving I'll do some decorating, because we like to have our house decorated even though we will not actually be here for Christmas. Oh. Halftime is over. Time to get out of my chair.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans

Today is the day set aside to honor the men and women who serve or have served in our armed forces. I do my best to honor them, while at the same time abhorring war. And I also honor those who wait at home for them, their loved ones who give up so much. "They also serve who only stand and wait." Veteran's Day is a good time to go shopping, as I can attest to, having just come from the grocery store. Whew! However it's our nation's teachers I am most concerned about right now. They stand on the front lines too, serving our country, and it seems like now nobody has their back. With all of the hoopla over the movie Waiting For Superman, we are casting a wide net to say that our schools are broken and our teachers are failing. I don't know what it's like in the inner city schools of New York or Washington, DC, but I do know what teachers deal with in a suburban elementary school with a high rate of poverty and and a high percentage of foreign born, ESL students. I heard recently a statistic claiming that our schools have a 7 to one ratio of students to adults. I don't know where this is, or who they're counting in the adult category, but our class size is 25 to 30. I have some Facebook friends who are former colleagues in my school. I have picked up an increased level of stress from them in their on-line chatter. I messaged one of them privately. Yes, indeed, she responded, you read it correctly. New curriculum, new principal, new building to move into mid-year, more pressure to perform, but no more sense of direction, very little support with student discipline, and a sense of always being watched and judged with a critical eye; all of these added to a very difficult demographic, are causing stress and low moral. It's creating a duck-and-cover attitude. Our teachers are veterans of a different sort, but every bit as important to our nation, and they are under fire.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Footnote

Some of you were asking, after my last post, if I still had that 'foot problem'. Yep, I do. The plantar faciitis has not calmed down much, but I'm tired of it cramping my style, so I'm acting 'as if' - as if it isn't a problem. We went to a big antique show last Saturday and I was on my feet for a long time. I just found a place to sit down when it started to hurt too much, and then went on. I can't go out for hour long, hard pounding aerobic walks, but I will go for shorter, less ambitious walks. I need to be outside when the weather permits. Like today. Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Too Busy to Blog?

Maybe. It was a winter day here in Seattle, with steady light rain and temps in the low 40's, the kind of day that keeps us indoors. It's a good thing the solar powered weather station up on the roof has stored up energy. There wasn't much solar power today. But that's OK. When I finished up in the yard Sunday morning, I washed up gardening clothes and stowed them. I don't plan to do much more out there. I've moved indoors to begin my holiday sewing. - (I also packed up all of the Sounders gear and stored it away. Their season ended abruptly on Sunday when they lost in the first round of the playoffs. We'll miss them, but it's time to move on.) While my embroidery attachment and sewing machine do the stitching, I have a few minutes to shoot some photos, but I do have to stay right there. Machines have a way of misbehaving when you're not looking, and you have to be ready to hit the stop button when the thread breaks or ravels, which happens just often enough to make you nervous. It happened twice today, and once you start a program the computer takes over, and it doesn't go backwards. This project will have to remain secret for a while, since the recipients read my blog. I have a stack of projects waiting, including some outfits for Irene. I'll be busy getting everything ready for Christmas. Tom has an indoor project too. Down at the other end of the counter he is working at the computer, scanning old photos. He's now into his own childhood, having discovered an old album his mother must have put together, but that has gone unnoticed for many years. You might notice he's bundled up. I'm working in shirt sleeves. We have very different body thermal systems. Here are Tom and his twin, Jan, celebrating their second birthday. It's just an example of the treasures he is preserving. I took my blood pressure reading this morning, since it has been about six weeks since I last checked, and it was up too high. So even though I am going to be spending time indoors, I have to get back to my exercise regimen. I wrapped up the sewing early enough to devote an hour to my exercise routine, while the oven heated up the left over pot roast dinner I cooked yesterday. - I'm a list maker. Today's list: Do sample embroideries. Start project. Exercise. Check. Check. Check. - And now I'm squeezing blogging in after dinner, before I go downstairs and settle into my recliner to watch TV shows we've recorded, and Parenthood at 10:00. Before I go, I'll check in and see what you all are up to.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Change

While the dogwood has taken on color, the fernleaf full-moon maple has gone from glorious to almost bare in a few short days. It's easy to see the birds awaiting their turn at the bird feeders now.
This morning we awoke to daylight and sun! My spirit changed from gloomy to bright along with the dawning of the new day. Tom and I were outside by 9:30 and spent the morning working in the yard.
-
Change has come there too. Although we have not had a frost, it is time to remove the lush growth of summer and put the garden to bed. And so the flowers and vegetables are mostly gone and the ground cloth covers the soil while it slumbers through the winter.
Tom is putting new plastic over the cloche, which has been moved back over one of the raised beds. Tom's bonsai will be sheltered under these for the winter.
I have been working on the edges and cleaning out the beds, getting ready to lay down a blanket of leaf mulch.
There will be leaves to rake up yet through November. By December the garden work should be done for this year.
The sunny morning gave way to clouds, and it's clear to say the sun is no longer shining on the Seahawks, who are losing badly at home to the New York Giants. The current score of 41 to 7 can only get worse in the last seven minutes. What changed? Well, our starting quarterback was knocked out of play by a concussion last week. This has not been pretty to watch, so while I still have it on, it's pretty much just background noise.
-
The Sounders play the second match of the playoffs in Los Angeles this evening against the league leading Galaxy. We certainly hope they fare better than the Seahawks.
-
The political changes resulting from this week's elections have been on my mind. There are so many interpretations of what these changes mean and what they will bring about. Some say the change is good, some say no. I say I just don't know. Will we have two years of stagnation as the Republicans do their best to ensure that Obama is a one term president, as some of their leadership stated? Will anyone come up with new, fresh ideas for solving our economic dilemma? Will new ideas even be welcomed? I don't know.
-
Uncertainty is not my friend, but sometimes we must live with it.
-
Change happens.
The sky is blue again.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Leaves

Leaves on the sidewalk,
Oh my, oh me.
I'd rather have them
Back on the tree.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Day in the Garden

It reached 74 degrees today!! The beautiful blue sky was a lovely backdrop for the autumn foliage in the yard. The show started early. This is the view from the bedroom window into the top of the Full Moon Maple below in the front yard. We were outside by 10:00 to spend most of the day working in the yard. I had my camera handy to take photos as the sun and shade moved around the garden, lighting different plants. The hosta in the secret garden urn now exhibits a golden drape. Japanese maple
Dogwood back lit by the morning sun.
Leaf and cedar littler contrast with hosta. No piles if dry leaves here. Everything is wet.
Seattle had 1.5 inches of rain on Monday, which we were happy to miss. The sodden ground is sprouting mushrooms.
The bird bath is full of rain water.
The beauty berry leaves are turning chartreuse, creating my favorite color combination with the purple berries.
More purple in the Cuphea (cigar plant) in a patio planter.
The burning bush bonsai will soon be bare.
The full moon maple
Even the cactus in the house is adding to the show. While usually called Christmas cactus, I call this one my Halloween cactus, because it blooms orange just in time for Halloween.